Interviewing

Here’s an interesting blurb on interviewing. My favorite bit is: “Even though work history doesn’t correlate with job performance, being a lying sack of shit almost certainly does.” It’s true– and a ridiculous number of people lie on resumes, job applications and even applications for school. Part of me thinks it’s because when the dot.com boom hit, startups were hiring so quickly left and right that employers weren’t doing all the follow-up they might normally do. No real checking references, employment history, education, etc. They just needed bodies. So, people began padding their resumes– i.e., flat out lying– because in most cases, employers wouldn’t check and they wouldn’t get caught.

Just look at the difference between interviewing with a larger, more established company and interviewing with a startup. When you interview for the former, you’ve usually got a first round phone interview and then if you make it past that, you get a full day of structured interviewing with different people in different job functions at the company. And when interviewing for a technical position, you’re usually asked to jump through some pretty standard technical hoops, such as “implement a binary search in the language of your choice.” Your answer doesn’t always have to be perfect, but it’s a good way to weed out people who just don’t know what they’re talking about or who are flat out lying about their qualifications.

Startups have changed a lot since I was doing lots of interviewing with them circa 2000 and the startups that survive usually do a better screening process anyway, but lots of them have a much more unstructured, perhaps even completely haphazard interviewing setup. It’s a lot more touchy-feely. You come in, you talk about your feelings and your ideal work environment, and use lots of buzz words. It’s a lot more about “can I work with this person?” than “can this person do the job?” Which kind of makes sense since with only six people in your little startup, you’re probably going to be around each other a lot and compatibility becomes a big factor. Of course, with only six people in your little startup, everyone’s going to need to pull their weight and if you’re only interviewing based on compatibility, you’re going to end up with some people who really aren’t qualified to be doing what they’re doing. And that’s probably a big part of why only like 15% of startups are at all successful.